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Political Parties

Political Parties

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Political Parties

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  1. Political Parties

  2. Parties- Here & Abroad • Definition- a party is a group that seeks to elect candidates to public office by supplying them with a label by which they are known to the electorate. • (AKA- party identification) • Parties are not mentioned in the Constitution.

  3. Functions of Political Parties • To control the government via elections • Serve as intermediaries between people and government • Raise money • Present positions on policy • Get the candidate elected

  4. Vocabulary Terms • Politcal party • Nomination • Political system • Electoral college • Caucuses • National convention • Party platform • Critical election • Electoral realignment • Two-party system • Electoral dealignment • Minor parties: 4 types • Majority representation

  5. Vocabulary Terms • Proportional representation • Party identification • National committee • Party conference • Congressional campaign committee • Party machine • Responsible party government • Independent candidates • Platform • Soft money • Split-ticket voting • Divided government

  6. Vocabulary Terms • Coalition • Class action suits • Influence peddling • Federal Election Campaign Act • Political action committees • Doctrinal parties

  7. Supreme Court Case for Friday • Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission

  8. Arenas of politics in which political parties exist: • 1) Label, in the minds of the voters • 2) Organization, recruiting and campaigning for candidates. • 3) Set of leaders, organize and try to control the legislative and executive branches. • ***US parties have become weaker in all three arenas.

  9. Decentralization of party power in the United States • Federalism decentralizes power. • National parties used to be a coalition of local parties. • Now parties organize at all levels and do not communicate well. • ***ALL politics are LOCAL***** • Candidates are chosen through primaries not by party leaders.

  10. The Unimportance of Parties • Americans do not join or pay dues to parties. • Parties rarely affect one’s daily thoughts • They remain separate from all other aspects of life.

  11. The Rise and Fall of Parties • Founding fathers disliked parties, viewing them as factions (especially George Washington). • For parties to gain acceptance, people had to be able to distinguish between policy disputes and challenges to the legitimacy of government.

  12. 1st Battle • Jefferson - Jeffersonian Republicans • Hamilton- Federalists • They were loose associations (caucuses) of political notables. • Republicans dominated - Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe

  13. Problems of Early Parties • The largest issue was that they did not represent homogeneous economic interests. • They were always heterogeneous coalitions designed to win elections.

  14. From Jackson to War • Late 1820s- political participation became a mass phenomenon. • 1832- presidential electors chosen by popular vote in most states • Abandonment of presidential caucuses made up of congressman soon thereafter. • Beginning of national convention leading to more local control.

  15. Civil War to 1930s • A lot of sectionalism due to slavery. • Most states were dominated by one party • 1) factions emerge in each party. • 2) Republicans had a factional party split from the base (also called a splinter party)- the Progressives.

  16. The Era of Reform • 1930s until today • Progressives pushed to curb the power of the political parties. • 1) Favored primaries, replacing nominating conventions. • 2) Non-partisan elections @ the local level. • 3) Strict voter registration requirements to prevent fraud. • 4) Civil service reform to eliminate patronage. • 5) Introduction of referendums /initiatives

  17. Effects of the progressive movement • 1) Eliminated the worst forms of political corruption. • 2) Weakened all political parties- parties became less able to hold officeholders accountable or to coordinate across the branches of government.

  18. Today’s Party Structure • Parties are very similar on paper. • National convention has ultimate power. Meets every 4 years to nominate the presidential candidate. • National committee is composed of delegates from states; they manage the affairs between conventions. • Congressional campaign committees support the party’s congressional candidates. • National Chair manages daily work.

  19. Party Structure • The structure of the two parties diverged in the late 1960s/early 70s. • The RNC moved to a bureaucratic structure; a well-financed party devoted to electing its candidates especially to Congress. • Democrats moved to a factionalized structure and redistributed power.

  20. Party Structure • RNC used computerized mailing lists to raise money. Money was used to provide services for candidates, effectively becoming a national firm of political consultants. • DNC learned from RNC, but not as successful. • Both sent $$ to state parties, to sidestep federal spending limits (soft money).

  21. National Conventions • National committee sets the time and place and tells each state its # of delegates and the rules for their selection. • Dems and Repubs have very different ways of awarding delegates. • In the 1970s, rule changes increased the number of women, blacks, youths, and Native Americans attending the Dem convention.

  22. Delegate Distribution • Formulas are used by both parties to allocate their delegates to the national convention. • The Republicans reward those states that consistently favor their candidates in presidential and congressional elections. • Democrats reward larger states that consistently support their candidates. • The result is that republicans give more delegates to states from the South and Southwest, whereas the democrats give to the North and West.

  23. Today’s convention • Today’s national convention is similar to a large pep rally for the nominee. It is used to ratify the choices made by the voters during the primary season. • The party in power (executive branch) has their convention after the party seeking office holds their convention. Usually a week or two after.

  24. State and Local Parties • There is no hierarchal structure of political parties. Each level deals with its own issues. Ideas are not passed from national to state to local. • The only thing that floes from one level to another is money.

  25. The Political Machine • Definition- a party organization that recruits members via tangible incentives. • Prevalent in the US until early 1900s. • It has been curbed by civil service reform, voter registration, and social services being taken over by the federal and state government.

  26. Types of Political Parties • Ideological- based on an agenda covering many topics. Very factionalized. • Solidary groups- based on friendships. Not very hard working. • Sponsored parties- craeted by an organization. Not very common in US. • Personal following- name recognition, $$, favorite son (ex. Kennedys (MA), Longs (LA), Perot (1992, 1996)

  27. The Two-Party System • Rarity among nations today. • Why does it exist in America? • 1) Electoral system- winner-take-all system and plurality system limit the number of parties. • 2) Opinions of voters- if one is failing we try the other for a little while • 3) State laws make it very difficult for third parties to get on the ballot.

  28. Minor Parties (3rd parties) • Ideological parties- comprehensive, radical views, most enduring • Examples include Communist, Socialist, Libertarians • One-issue parties- address one concern • Examples: Free Soil, Phohibition • Economic Protest parties- regional • Examples: Greenback, Populist • Factional parties- split from major party • Examples: Bull Moose, Christian Coalition

  29. 3rd Parties • Factional parties probably have the greatest influence on public policy. • The BIG TWO may pay a heavy price if it fails to recognize the faction that has split from its party.

  30. Nominating a President • Two forces acting together: • 1) Party’s desire to win office motivates it to seek an appealing candidate • 2) Party’s desire to acquiesce dissidents within the party forces a compromise with more extreme views.

  31. Are the Delegates Representative of the voter? • NO!!!!! Democratic delegates are much more liberal and Republican delegates are much more conservative than your rank and file voter. • Yet, people that participate in caucuses and primaries are similar ideologically to those who participate in the general election.

  32. Caucus v. Primary • A caucus is a much more involved process than a primary. • Due to this, only the most dedicated partisans attend. • This leads to some of the most ideological candidates (more extreme) winning or doing very well in the caucus.

  33. Democrats v. Republicans • Since 1968 Democrats have won more congressional elections than presidential elections. • Candidates are out of step with the average voter on social and tax issues. • Rank and file dems and repubs differ very little on political issues. • The difficult thing for candidates is appealing to the average voter, while not losing the support of the more extreme delegates.